Valve cover and timing cover oil leaks

Hi, my Toyota dealership said my 2006 Corolla with 117,070 miles on it needs valve cover and timing cover oil leaks fixed at a cost of $1,070. I can’t afford to have this expensive work done right now. Can it wait? and I am wondering if my trusty independent mechanic might be able to do the work for less. But is this job too complicated for an independent mechanic and should it be left to a dealership that only works on Toyotas to do it? PS: I think I had this same repair or a similar repair done at the dealership a few (2-3) years ago. Thanks for listening and any suggestions!

Absolutely not. Just talk to the trusted mechanic you already know and let him tell you just how bad the leaks are. Also look at your manual and see what service you might be due for.
A dealership repair is usually more expensive then independent and they document leaks and things like that because if they don’t and someone sees a leak after dealer service the complaint factor becomes a problem.

There is no such thing as a repair job that is “too complicated” for anyone but a dealership mechanic to do. In fact, given many of the dealership mechanics I’ve dealt with, I’ve often discovered exactly the opposite is true.

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Thanks for the advice!

Thanks. I have an independent mechanic that I trust and has done other work for me such as brakes, air conditioning motor blower, etc.

Which makes me ask why are you going to the dealer ?

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Well…long story I guess. This was my first ever “new” car bought 11 years ago. Before that I always had very old used cars (like 9 years old by the time I got them) and they always had multiple problems and leaks that I went to my trusty independent mechanic for.) But…the dealership constantly tells me that they are better because they use “genuine Toyota parts” and are a Toyota service center, so I have stuck with them…even though they are more expensive and the experience there is more stressful with their service advisors. Lately though, since the the warranty is long-gone on my “new” Toyota, I have been having more work done on it by my trusty independent mechanic and less done by my dealership. I still bring it to the dealership for my semi-annual 5,000 oil-change maintenance but it is way expensive and they want to charge me over $1,000 for extra repairs every time I come in. My trusty independent mechanic has way more work than he has time for because he’s very popular, but I can usually schedule an appointment with some advance notice, as we are on friendly terms. I am considering having my oil changed at my independent mechanic, as he did when I owned the older beater cars, now that my formerly “new” car is older and out of warranty.

“Genuine Toyota parts” are not made by Toyota. They are sourced from a part manufacturer, who stamps the Toyota logo on them. All you have to do is know which company actually made the part, and you can get the exact same part, only without the Toyota logo on it, for lots less.

Dealerships would obviously get in major trouble with Toyota if they did this, but independent mechanics are perfectly free to do it.

How much oil are you using? How many miles between adding a quart? As long as you’re keeping track of your oil level, and you’re not leaving puddles of oil or clouds of smoke from it hitting the exhaust, they’re no rush.

Didn’t know until just now that they are not made by Toyota

I have never added a quart of oil between six-month oil changes at the dealership and SO FAR have not had any engine problems or noticed any smoke etc.

Timing chain cover leaks are something vehicle owners want repaired if the vehicle is under warranty, after the car is out of warranty they aren’t interested in repairing minor leaks that require a lot of labor. If the leak didn’t bother you before they showed it to you, it shouldn’t bother you now.

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I hope you don’t think you have to wait until you are a quart low to add oil. I check my oil levels on the 1st and 15th of each month and sometimes I add small amounts to have the oil at the full mark on a cold engine.


No it didn’t bother me until they mentioned it. The service advisor referred to it as a “small leak from the top of the engine” if I remember correctly. Unfortunately I’m not very mechanically inclined so I have either the dealership or my independent mechanic do all the work on my car.

Just got off the phone with my independent mechanic. He said that with something like this they start by looking at fixing the valve cover oil leak first, and then see if the timing cover oil leak also needs fixing. He said that it might be under $300. He said he can take a look at my car tomorrow if I want. I am not sure if I even want anything done right now or not, since the car actually isn’t giving me any trouble at the moment, just going 40 miles each way back and forth to work every day.

Unless the leak is bad, and it appears not to be, just keep driving. My 2007 Corolla has a “sweating” oil pan gasket; but there is never an oil stain on the garage floor nor do I have to add any oil between changes!

But the dealer still tries to scare me into fixing it for “only” $550!!! Most cars (like people!) as they age leak a little here and there; just go to any parking lot and look at where their engines would be for the parked cars. Every parking lot has stains there.

The dealer guy who quoted you this figure probably drives a car himself that is leaking a little!!!

You are worrying unnecessarily!

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What is under the timing cover that could be hurt by an oil leak? On cars with a timing belt, it would be a concern that the largely rubber belt could eventually be weakened by an oil leak, or be made more prone to slipping.

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That’s good advice imo. I’ve had to replace/renew the valve cover gasket on my own Corolla 2 or 3 times over the years to fix minor leaks. Even a small leak, the oil goes everywhere, especially downhill, so it is hard to say what else is leaking until you get the top of the engine leak fixed first.

My Corolla’s engine is an older design differently configured that yours, uses a timing belt while you probably have a timing chain, so what makes most sense in my case may not be exactly the same as your case. But if your mechanic suggests to do the valve cover first, suggest to follow that suggestion.

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Thanks. I believe my car has a timing chain

I haven’t noticed any stains under my car in the driveway